How to Train Your Dog to Stay Away from the Road

Medium
1-6 Weeks
Behavior

Introduction

You step out onto the sidewalk to start your walk, but before you can even look for oncoming traffic, your canine friend has leapt into the road without a care in the world. You swiftly pull on the leash to avoid the oncoming truck. Fortunately, you get away with just a beep from the truck and you read some choice words coming from his lips. This isn’t the first time your dog has had a near miss on the roads and you fear it won’t be the last. It’s made even worse if you live near busy roads where the chances of an accident are high.

Training your dog to stay away from roads could save you from serious consequences. If he is involved in a traffic collision and survives, you may have a hefty vet bill. But even worse, he may not survive and you could lose him for good. Setting some road boundaries, therefore, is essential.

Defining Tasks

Training your dog to stay away from roads isn’t all plain sailing. Getting him to be aware of the road boundaries takes considerable time and a number of steps. You’ll have to increase your control with obedience commands and you’ll have to utilize a number of measures to make getting on the road harder. If he’s a young puppy he should be eager to learn and respond to training in just a week or two. If he’s older with years of playing traffic roulette under his collar, be prepared to invest up to 6 weeks into training.

Get the training right and you could well save his life. You may also save someone else’s life. Every year people die when they try to swerve out of the way of hazards on the road. You don’t want your canine pal to be responsible for anyone's death!

Getting Started

Before your road safety course begins, you’ll need a few bits. You need a quiet stretch of road to practice on and you’ll need to avoid training during the early morning and evening rush hour. You’ll also want to get some treats or your dog's favorite food broken into small chunks. These will be used to motivate and reward him.

You’ll also need a secure leash, 15 minutes a day to dedicate to training, and a positive attitude. Once you’ve collected all of that, you’re good to go!

The Sit and Safe Method

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Step
1
Head for a quiet road
Make sure you have him secured to a leash and have some yummy treats tucked in your pocket You’re going to teach him to sit every time he approaches a road.
Step
2
Hold out a treat
Make sure you’re on the edge of the sidewalk as if you’re about to cross the road. Use the treat to get his attention and then issue a ‘sit’ command.
Step
3
Reward
As soon as he sits give him a treat and some praise. If he doesn’t sit straight away, use your hand to gently push his bottom down. He may need some encouragement the first few times so be patient.
Step
4
Practice and make him wait
Practice this by constantly crossing the same road for 15 minutes a day for the first few days. As he gets the hang of it, keep him seated for longer before you give him a treat. This way you’ll soon have him sat and waiting for your permission whenever he’s about to cross a road.
Step
5
Only cross the road when it’s completely clear
Make sure you do this every time. This will slowly drill into him that he can only cross the road when it’s empty. If a car comes, pull him back to the sidewalk and have him sit again. If you’re consistent with this everyday for several weeks, he will quickly become the best behaved dog around cars you’ve ever met.
Recommend training method?

The Utilize Help Method

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Step
1
A body harness and short leash
When you take him on walks near roads, have him on a very short leash. Also put a body harness on him, this will give you extra control and reduce the strain on his neck. This way you’ll quickly be able to pull him out of any car's way.
Step
2
Walk on the outside
Always walk between the road and your dog. Have him close to your side, further away from the road than you. If you keep this up every time you walk it will become habit for him to walk a safe distance away from cars.
Step
3
Be firm
If he does step onto the road, quickly pull him out of the way. Don’t shout and scare him, he won’t learn that way. Just be calm and assertive. If you react quickly every time, he’ll soon give up trying to step on the road altogether.
Step
4
Praise him
If you’re walking alongside busy roads and he stays well behaved by your side, give him the odd treat and verbal praise. This will help reinforce what the right behavior is when he’s near cars.
Step
5
Consistency
The key to this training is being persistent. It’s all about creating a road side habit. If every time he’s near cars he lets you walk on the near side to the cars, he’ll be safer. If he’s pulled off the road every time he steps on it, he’ll eventually stop doing it. If he’s rewarded for walking calmly around cars, he’ll repeat the behavior for more treats. So be consistent and after several weeks he will catch on.
Recommend training method?

The Wait Method

Effective
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Step
1
Find a quiet room
Take him into a room that’s free from distractions and go armed with a pocket full of treats. You’re going to teach him to wait whenever he sees a car.
Step
2
‘Wait’
Stand in front of him and issue a ‘wait’ command (it can be any word you want to use). Then take a step back and give him a treat. The key is to reward him even when you’ve barely backed up to start with.
Step
3
Gradually increase the distance
Start walking further away before you give him a treat. You need to slowly increase the distance and time he waits, otherwise he’ll get confused. Practice this every day until you can walk out the room and he’ll still stay sat there.
Step
4
Time to up the stakes
Head outside at a relatively quiet time of day. You need there to be a few cars, but not a really busy road. Walk as you normally would, but as soon as you see a car issue the ‘wait’ command. Have him sit there until the car passes and then give him a treat and lots of praise.
Step
5
Make it harder
Start on quiet roads, but after a few successful days you can start practicing on busier roads. Continue with the reward system until you can instruct him to wait swiftly whenever a car approaches. When he’s mastered it you can stop giving him treats and enjoy having a canine pal who’ll stand still and wait for cars to pass before he moves an inch.
Recommend training method?

Success Stories and Training Questions

Training Questions and Answers

Question
Casey
Corgi
6 Months
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Question
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Casey
Corgi
6 Months

We live in the country, she wants to run out on the road and chase cars. It is a very busy street

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
104 Dog owners recommended

Hello, I agree this is a dangerous situation for little Casey. I think you should work on boundary training: https://wagwalking.com/training/stay-within-boundaries. Try the Reinforce Boundaries Method. There is a good variation here in the Flagged Boundary Method: https://wagwalking.com/training/stay-in-an-unfenced-yard-1. Practice it every day - but remember, if she has a love for chasing cars, the temptation may prove too great. Work with her to develop a solid recall: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-whippet-to-recall. Providing a safe large fenced-in area for her to spend time in when you are all outside is ideal. Make sure the entire family is on board so that she is not allowed to run when one family member is in charge, while another family member has to try and keep her within the boundaries. Good luck!

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Question
Louie
Labrador Retriever
8 Months
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Question
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Louie
Labrador Retriever
8 Months

So usually my puppy doesn’t go on the road but lately I’ve seen him go on the road and there’s rubbish thrown around the road . Also my pup doesn’t listen to me when I call him he only will listen to a bag rattling .

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello! I am going to give you information on potty training, as well as teaching recall for running away. Recall: STAGE ONE – 'Catching' or Charging Up the 'Come' Cue Start in a distraction free environment so that your dog can focus only on you. Whenever your puppy or dog is coming to you on his own, wait until he is a couple of feet from you and then say his name and the word 'come.' When he gets to you, make a big fuss. With this exercise, your dog will learn that coming to you is a really good thing. After a while, you can lengthen the distance between you and start using the word when he is coming to you from a greater distance. Coming to you should always be rewarded, whatever the circumstance and no matter how long it took your dog to respond. Motivate your dog to come by being exciting, running away from him, waving a toy, or having delicious food for him when he gets to you. This will show him that coming back to you the best thing he can do. STAGE TWO – Solidifying the Cue Through Play Make sure you play the Back and Forth game with another person that your dog is comfortable with. Start the game in a quiet environment so it is easy for your dog to focus on you. Hold your dog back while the other person calls him excitedly. Try not to use his name or the cue word but talk excitedly to ‘gee’ him up. Do not release him until the person calls his name followed by the cue word “come.” When the cue word is given, release your dog and let him go running to the person calling. As soon as he reaches them they should praise and reward him with a game of tug or a food reward. When your dog has had his reward, have the other person hold him back as you call him and release as you say his name followed by the cue word. When he comes to you reward him with another game of tug or food reward. Repeat this game back and forth but only do a few repetitions so your dog does not get bored or too tired. Keeping it fresh means the game is always fun to play. STAGE THREE – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Inside Now your dog knows what the word “come” means you can use the cue word to call him to you while adding a hand signal to the word. Hand signals are always good to build with vocal cues so that even if your dog cannot hear you he will understand what the hand signal means. This is good if your dog is a distance away from you. Start in a quiet environment. Walk away from your dog and call his name followed by the cue word and a hand signal. Praise and reward him when he comes to you. Start increasing the distance you call him from and praise for his compliance. If he does not respond, go back to the previous distance and repeat. Only practice this cue for a few minutes so your dog does not get bored. The secret to success is to always keep it fun, exciting and fresh. When your dog recognizes the hand signal, try calling his name and using the hand signal by itself without the vocal cue. You will then be able to use a combination of vocal cue only, hand signal only and the two together. Now your dog knows what the cue word means you can start to call him from different rooms or from areas where he cannot see you. This will encourage him to respond even when you are out of sight. STAGE FOUR – Adding Vocal Cue With Hand Signal Outside Now your dog is consistently coming to you in a distraction free environment you can proof your recall cue by taking it outside. Practice the recall in your yard and then gradually build up to the point where you can use it in the park or similar environment. The ultimate test is to use the recall when your dog is engaged in a different activity. Wait for a lull in that activity and then call your dog to you. Praise his decision to comply.

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Question
Piper
German Shepherd Husky Mix
4 Years
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Question
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Piper
German Shepherd Husky Mix
4 Years

we recently moved to a very busy road, she has a run but today she got off and ran into the middle of the road, if my neighbor had not gotten home at that moment she would've been hit. I want to train her to not go into the road at all.

Alisha Smith
Alisha S., Dog Trainer
233 Dog owners recommended

Hello! Training your dog to stay inside a boundary is quite simple. To get started you will need to purchase marker flags from your local hardware store. These are generally found in the garden section. You will also need high value treats for your dog. I like to use grilled chicken, roast beef, or cheese cut into very small pieces. Look for a treat your dog will go crazy over, and only use this special treat for boundary training. I prefer to use a clicker as a marker for training this behavior. The clicker is a reward marker communicating to your dog that she did the right thing and will get a reward. You will start inside your house with your dog. Show your dog the flag, when she touches it with her nose click the clicker and give her a treat. This will teach her that touching the flag is what gets her the reward or treat. Next, place the flag a few feet away from you. Have your dog touch the flag; when she does this again you will click. She should then return to you to get her treat. Move the flag further way and practice having your dog go to the flag, click and give her a treat when she returns to you. By doing this, you will be conditioning your dog to move away from the flag. Before moving the training outside, I like to work with my dogs for about a week to make sure they understand they are to move away from the flags. Remember to always use a clicker and a treat to reinforce this. Once your dog understands they get rewarded for moving away from the flags, it is time to take the training outside. Place flags along your boundary line every 8-10 feet. Using a 15 to 20 foot long line, walk your dog around the boundary of your yard. She should go to the flags and touch them. After this happens you will click and your dog should return to you for her treat. Remember to continue to use your clicker and click and dispense a treat every time she touches the flags. For the best success practice this several times a day. You are classically conditioning your dog to return to you when she sees the flags. The flag become the cue to return to you, this becomes an involuntary response to the dog. Practice as often as you can, 8 to 10 weeks of practice will help make this a very solid behavior. The more you practice the more solid the behavior will be. As your dog gets better at returning to you, increase the length of the long line to 40 or 50 feet. You can also introduce some low level distractions to the training. This increases the difficulty of the behavior so make sure your dog gets a lot of praise and reinforcement for returning to you. Gradually increase the level of the distractions. If your dog is having trouble with this part of the training, make sure your distractions are not too high level. The last step is working with your dog off-leash. Make sure you are supervising your dog during this part of the training. Reinforce your dog often during the off lead sessions. Be aware of what is going on outside your yard and if you feel the distractions are too much for your dog to handle put her back on the lead. You will also want to make sure your yard is a fun environment for your dog. The yard should be a place where your dog feels safe and happy. One last tip; Do not punish your dog if she goes out of her boundary. Simply call her back and praise her when she returns. This will teach her that being inside the boundary is always rewarding and good things happen whenever she is inside the boundary.

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